Macclesfield will have its very own British Touring Car Championship contender in 2005 after James Pickford took victory in the SEAT Cupra Cup at Donington Park on Sunday.

The 25-year old turned a 24 point deficit after the second round into a ten point championship winning margin by the end of the 12 race series, with a brilliant season-long performance in his Haribo / Vivaldi Leon Cupra R.

Having finished on the podium nine times in 10 races, James finished third and fourth in the final two rounds to secure the title - and become Britain's newest professional racing driver. It was a nail-biting final race, made all the more unpredictable by a heavy downpour which drenched the circuit, making it an official wet race.

But as the sun came out and a Euro 3000 race stamped a dry line around the Donington circuit, the SEAT Cupra drivers were given the option of using either wets or slick Pirelli tyres for the final championship race - which had been shortened to 12 laps because of the conditions.

All except Tom Boardman - second in the championship and James's nearest rival - selected slicks, and when Tom went out on wet tyres James knew the title would be his.

Whilst James kept away from danger and drove a copybook championship-winning final race, Boardman, who had won the first race of the day at Donington in his Exchange & Mart Leon Cupra R, finished last. Not only that, he slipped to third in the final championship standings, overtaken by Oli Wilkinson, who won the final race in his talkSport Leon Cupra R.

"I'm a mixture of emotions - happiness because I've won the biggest prize in British motorsport and I'm a professional touring car driver and relief because it's all over!

"My dream in life is to get paid for racing motor cars and that's exactly what I will be doing next year," said a very happy James Pickford. "I'm really looking forward to it. I still can't believe the prize I've won, although seeing my name on the side of the Toledo Cupra has helped it sink in a little.

"Having raced in the SEAT Cupra Championship for two years I really feel part of the SEAT family and that means something very special to me. I think we can go a long way together. Next year I want to help SEAT win the manufacturers' title and make a name for myself in touring cars. Rob has done fantastically well in his first season in the BTCC and I want to do the same."

Scott Dennis, SEAT UK's National Motorsport Manager, is happy to see another driver join his squad. "I'm really delighted for James. He looked at how Rob won the Holiday Inn SEAT Cupra Championship last year, has been consistently fast all season and has turned a fairly large points deficit into a points advantage and won the title in style.

"I'm sure James will fit into our touring car team very well - he's very SEAT, he knows what we are all about and I'm sure he'll do a very good job for us.

Visit the dramatic end to the BTCC season at Donington Park for half price - only ?15 for two person entry - thanks to Halfords and Team Dynamics. BUY NOW



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